Does God “allow” adversity or cause it?


Fiery Trials

I have friends from a variety of theological persuasions – hyper-Calvinists to Open Theologists, Cessationists to wild Pentecostals, some sprinkle babies while others only dunk adults, even a smattering of Universalists and some too eclectic and weird to even label have crept into my circle of amigos. Of course, a midst all these extremes, I am the only “balanced” one.  Ha!

The point is that when these folks talk about adversity they adamantly disagree on its source. Some claim God is so “sovereign” He is always behind the troubles in our life. Some believe He occasionally brings it to purify us.  Some are repulsed by that idea and say He only “allows” it. Some say all problems are “from the devil” and God is only a God of blessing. Of course the happiest ones don’t even think about it.

My personal stance? I have my opinions (which by the way, are balanced and correct) but basically I just try to deal with trouble as it comes and merrily skip through life trusting God will take care of me regardless the source of my woes. It works for me.

But in this passage in Mark we do see a couple of interesting things.

Mark 1:11-13
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.  

1. God was clearly pleased with Jesus. The trial He was about to face was not a consequence of sin or being out of God’s will.
2. It was the Spirit that led him into the wilderness. This testing was a direct result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
3. The devil clearly had a role to play in the testing but he was simply there waiting to try to devour the prey the Spirit sent his way.
4. Jesus went into the wilderness “full of the Spirit” but came out “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1, 14) and after the testing “angels attended him”.

So, whatever the source of our struggles, we can see that even when it appears we have been abandoned by God – left in a lonely place surrounded by “wild animals” wanting to devour us, we can stand against the enemy using God’s Word and there is great joy – power and angelic consolation – awaiting us on the other side. So, just keep walking. This desert time will end and there is joy on the other side.
Isaiah 43:2, 4-5
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, … Do not be afraid, for I am with you; ….

So what do you think?



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